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Allan Holdsworth

Guitarist Allan Holdsworth is widely considered to be one of the finest instrumentalists in all of jazz fusion, yet has never truly received the recognition that he so rightfully deserves. Born on August 6, 1946, in Bradford, Yorkshire, Holdsworth was originally taught music by his father, who was a pianist. Holdsworth didn't pick up the guitar until he was 17 years old, but learned the instrument quickly. After playing in local outfits (and learning the violin), Holdsworth relocated to London, where he was taken under the wing of saxophonist Ray Warleigh. By 1972, Holdsworth had joined progressive rockers Tempest, appearing on the group's self-titled debut a year later before joining Soft Machine in December 1973 -- and radically changing the latter outfit's sound to guitar-based fusion in the process. U.S. drummer Tony Williams discovered Holdsworth around this time, which led to an invite for the up-and-coming guitarist to replace John McLaughlin in Williams' Lifetime project -- Holdsworth abruptly left Soft Machine in March of 1975, subsequently appearing on the Williams recordings Believe It and Million Dollar Legs. But Holdsworth's union with Williams was a brief one, as the guitarist joined up with French-English prog rockers Gong for such albums as 1976's Gazeuse! (released as Expresso in the U.S.) and 1978's Expresso II, in addition to guesting on recordings by Jean-Luc Ponty, Bill Bruford, Gordon Beck, Jack Bruce, and UK.

Also in the late '70s, Holdsworth launched a solo career, which over the years has seen the release of nearly 20 albums (a few standouts include 1983's Road Games, 1985's Metal Fatigue, 1994's Hard Hat Area, and 2000's The Sixteen Men of Tain), as the guitarist has been joined by such acclaimed musicians as Paul Williams (a former bandmate of Holdsworth's in Tempest), Gary Husband, Chad Wackerman, Gary Husband, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Hunt, and Alan Pasqua, among others. In the mid-'80s, Holdsworth was one of the first musicians to use a Synthaxe, a guitar that contained a breath controller that proved to be a cross between a synthesizer, guitar, and saxophone (Holdsworth was awarded Best Guitar Synthesist from 1989 through 1994 in the readers' poll of Guitar Player magazine). In the '90s, Holdsworth also created his own signature guitar model with the Carvin company. In the mid-'90s, Holdsworth briefly shifted away from his fusion originals and recorded an album with longtime musical partner Gordon Beck that dipped into jazz standards. The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000) marked another shift, in that it was the first Holdsworth release to feature an all-acoustic rhythm section. This was followed in 2002 by All Night Wrong, his first official live release. Then! Live in Tokyo was next, featuring Holdsworth's 1990 live band, which was followed by Against the Clock, a career retrospective, in 2005. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

He has a unique sound all of his own, and to keep up with Tony Williams, you got to be a hell of musician to keep up with his timing.
Simply Incredible !
Allan Holdsworth is, and always will be, as far as I'm concerned the Best Guitarist ever.
Since I heard him with Tony Williams Lifetime, I couldn't get enough.
Alan Holdsworth is a GIANT among insects in the fragmented world of fusion guitar Mr. F Zappa recognized his talent long before the Van Halen mainstream liaison. Thank you Alan for sharing your otherworldly talent with us mortals,
The first time I saw him was in '85 at The Red Creek, a small club in Rochester. I literally laid along the front edge of the stage. He performed the whole Road Games EP. I'll never forget it.
philippepelu s o
An amazing guitarist and one who Frank Zappa mentioned as innovative when interviewed in mid 70's.
wyrdwind
A stand out guy among the best with the jazz/rock fusion genre, Allan Holdsworth is inspirationa l . That's why he is the basis for my channel of that genre, which includes many hard bop players, as well. A musician's musician for sure.
one of my favorite guitar player and composer
One of my fave tunes is unmerry go round
I think it was a tune about his Dad
Those who say he's just speed are not hearing the harmonic content whether soloing or comping if you can call it that. Also, his physical fingerings. This guy is nuts and an amazing artist.
Holdsworth changed my music life! I was drowning in the Enigmatic Ocean tired of all the 80's hair Metal Fatique. After he saved my life I told him IOU but he said it was just a Tokyo Dream that he had in the Dead of Night!
Hard Hat Area..One of Allan's most melodic solos.
By far one of greatest guitarist of our time, hands down; first time I heard him was on the Jean luc Ponty Album, Enigmatic Ocean(1978), Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea, Pt. III, the solo at the end is spiritual, the sub-harmonic tone play, riffs in and out of penatonic scale without a hitch, was then and is NOW, the reason, why Allan Holdsworth, to me is the greatest guitarist to me on the planet. (amen).
srican69
He is among the giants who redefined what can be done with a guitar ... others preceding him in the list are Wes, Django & Hendrix .... These men represent inflection points in Guitar history.
love allans tone -i would say that the only other gtrst that can improvise like allan is probably pat metheny
The reason why he doesn't get the recognition he deserves, despite his sick talent, is because he wants things done his way. When recording Road Games, produced by Ted Templeman, his buddy Eddie Van Halen, who introduced AH to Templeman, wanted to play on the record. But Allan didn't want to trade on Van Halen's name to popularize his art, and refused. Things got a bit frosty after that, and what would have been an amazing full length CD/LP turned out to be a very shortened EP (albeit still am
sweet and nasty within a breath or beat. seen him in 1986 Ohio State...Thee Allan Holdsworth.# 1
the greatest and most original since Hendrix. Listening to this genius is pure pleasure.
last time i saw Alan Holdsworth was 2009. Thee trio was at a tiny joint in Denton, TX . capacity was just under 400. everyone could see his incredible fingers/hand s do their magic!! cloud nine, oh yeah, you bet. jjs
richdyerii3
crazy and incredible riffs are just filling the room...
Mr. Holdsworth is an artist of great integrity. His music is original and timeless. I listen to some of his songs on a daily basis and it takes me to a place that few other composers can. I hope someday to see him perform live.
Alan Holdsworth is one of few artist who spiritualy moves me into a space that is just a euprhoric high. His tones, phrasing, and song structure are a beautiful thing. The first time I heard Devil Take The Hindmost; I had to repeat it multiple times; each time not believing what I had just previously heard.
wagnergitira n a
He is one of the best. Trully innovative with a clean sound.
always and inspiration! ! ! I saw him for my first jazz concert back in 1980, At night stage in boston ma..He played with steve smith and stanley clarke,needl e s s to say I love jazz still to this day because of this mans awesome playing style..
Always surprising and interesting. A true original that I never tire of.
What a sound.1978 Dr Pepper festival in NYC UK opened for De meola. Listening to this brings me right back.Very special and memorable
One of the most gratifying listening experiences in music! Can I say . . . . Jazz-Shred?? ? ? AMAZING!!! ! ! ! !
logbuilder45
I always have been a big fan of his tone and fluidity and of course his recordings with Bill Bruford and Tony Williams are masterful.
i seen alan with uk with bill bruford on drums. those 2 tony williams records are classics for technique and inspiration and paxsonkev you were lucky to see allan with tony williams on drums miss tony .
I still have the cassette of Metal Fatigue ...
still one of the all time fusion guys..
I bought a carvin because of his suggestions.
paxsonkev
OK - they fixed Allan's bio, thanks guys...
I've seen him twice - in 1975 with the new Tony Williams Lifetime and in 2009 with his own band, both times at Gilly's in Dayton OH. He was excellent and amazing. A true natural talent and unique player.
Uh,this is not the Allan Holdsworth bio.
WTF?? but Mr Holdsworth is all that. He is an automatic nominee in a multiple choice question, (A through E) "who is the best living guitar player?" straight up, jjs
paxsonkev
So what exactly does legendary guitarist Holdsworth have to do with waifish Welsh singer Mary Hopkin? Hmm?
Great musician, man and friend!
seen alan with uk many moon ago. great bruford in that band.
absolutey one of the very best ever. incredible abudance of creativity and chops and distinct.
a consummate guitarist and musician. I've had the distinct pleasure and honor of seeing him perform twice; once in Santa Barbara and the other time at the good old Baked Potato in LA. A heavy influence on my own musical life, to be sure.
I've got Holdsworth in my top list of all-time greatest in the genre alongside McLaughlin, Metheny, Howe, Henderson, Scofield, Carleton, Santana, and include in that grouping now, Ngyen Le and perhaps even Stanley Jordan. Listing impossible to order depending upon the tune, but all of these "Masters" can do, and have done it all.
although my first time hearing this artist, I like his style.please play more of him for me . thanks Dave Evans Sr.
I saw Holdsworth in a tiny club in Raleigh NC in 1985 after the release of Metal Fatigue. Stood in the first row at the stage and was absolutely blown away. Ran off to the record (vinyl) store the next day and bought all they had. Tokyo Dream remains, to this day, one of my favorite songs of all time.....
delormej47
Should listen to UZEB ...same great jazz fusion
Haha. I just won free tickets to see his trio in Northampton, MA. Going tomorrow.
I'm looking at "the best from '89-'94"... Methany was plaing some good stuff and getting paid well then.
His guitar playing rip's but is smooth as a volin ,he's deffinitly one of the guitar god's of fusion....
jgualemartz
great stuff allen
the god of jazz-fusion! ! ! !
mikelkb...
alan and zappa coversed, discussing guitar synthesizers , i would guess music in general. i dont think they ever met or jammed together...z a p p a mentioned holdsworth as one of the most inventive fusion guitarists in a mag i read once. i think it was alan admiring frank from a distance.
they also shared musicians at times, including chad wackerman (drummer), vinnie coliuta (drummer).
regardless these are my 2 fav guitarists of all time.
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